Symbolisim The Scarlet Letter Essay, Research Paper
In the Scarlet Letter, the author uses many different types of symbols. The different settings of the story are ways in which he describes his environment and how it has treated him as a child. One symbol he uses a lot was the scarlet letter. The scarlet letter takes on different meanings as the course of the story progresses. It also takes on various appearances and symbolism. In the Scarlet Letter, there are many different forms of the letter A , not only that, but the letter A also acquires a variety of meanings.
The letter A appears in a variety of forms and appearances. It is the elaborately gold-embroidered A on Hester’s heart, at which Pearl throws wildflowers. Later, the A on her breast is decorated by Pearl with a border of “prickly burrs from a tall burdock which grew beside the tomb.” (p.138). On the night of his vigil, Dimmesdale sees a shooting star shaped like the letter A. In chapter 15, Pearl puts some type of seaweed on the letter A to look like a green A on her own chest. Later on the scaffold, Dimmesdale declares that on his breast he bears the sign of his sin, which is shaped like the letter A, and confesses that he is Pearl’s father. And at the end of the story, there is a reference to the scarlet A against the black background on Hester and Dimmesdale’s grave.
As the story progresses, the letter A acquires a variety of meanings. The scarlet letter has different personal meanings for the characters. For the Puritan community, it is a mark of just punishment. For Hester, it symbolizes humility. For Dimmesdale, it is a reminder of his sin, that he is the guilty one. For Chillingworth, it is some sort of motivation for revenge. For Pearl, it is already a part of her life. She was the scarlet letter endowed with life. Hester was able to overcome the humiliation and earn some respect from the Puritans. She appropriated he letter so that it could mean able instead of adulterous.
The A magnifies in an armor breastplate at the Governor’s mansion. The A grows to be larger than Hester signifying the town’s view of her sin. They do not see the human being behind the scarlet letter, they only see a sinner. For Hester, the A is not only a symbol of adultery, but also a symbol of alienation. She is an outcast from society and the women treat her differently by constantly sneering at her in public. The scarlet
letter is a symbol of what society wants to see and the decision to create a relativity. The townspeople soon began to accept her and believe that letter had supernatural powers. They decide that it meant able; so strong was Hester Prynne, with a woman’s strength, that they were allowing her to remove it.
The scarlet letter is a definite sign of Dimmesdale’s self-hatred. As Dimmesdale gets sick, he says “I need no medicine”. (118) When he says this, he is saying that there is no medicine that will help him because he is not sick from illness, but from a broken heart. Furthermore, everyone thinks that he is just trying to be tough, when really he is
trying to give away the secret of his “sickness.” When Hester and Dimmesdale are in the woods, and Hester asks Dimmesdale if he has found happiness, Dimmesdale responds by saying “None! – nothing but despair.” (187) When he says this, he is telling her that the past seven years have been torture. This is a result of having to hold in all the pain and agony of his sin. Even if he temporarily forgets about what he has done, he is reminded of it any time he sees his chest. This novel has shown many ways in which the scarlet letter is a sign of Dimmesdale’s self-hatred.
To Pearl, the A is a bright and mysterious curiosity which symbolizes her existence and the meaning behind it. In mockery, Pearl creates an A on her chest made of green seaweed which represents purity and innocence, but also signifies Pearl’s future as the daughter of sinner. For Chillingworth, the A represents the need for revenge and is the spur to this quest. In addition, the A also symbolizes attributes other than adultery. On the